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By Nikhil Aziz
August 18th, 2011
Like most other market-based solutions, REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), and its more recent avatar REDD +, are fundamentally about profit – not forests, not people, and not global warming or the climate.
In order to fix the broken food system, we need to de-colonize our minds. What do I mean about "de-colonize"? To understand that, do this short exercise. What comes to your mind, when you hear the word “Agriculture?” Is it a tree, a head of lettuce or vast endless fields somewhere in the US Midwest?
If the first thing came to your mind was a vast field of a single crop (such as endless rows of corn), you are certainly not alone. For decades, both consumers and farmers have been educated to think of agriculture as an industry of monocrops. The end of small, integrated farm plots (i.e. real food) coincided with the advent of industrial agriculture and the launch of the “Green Revolution.”
Amnesty International released a report on indigenous rights this week called “Sacrificing Rights in the Name of Development: Indigenous Peoples Under Threat in the Americas,” which exposes the impact of development projects throughout the continent. In its own words:
The La Parota mega-dam being constructed in Guerrero, Mexico will displace over 5,000 families and have an indirect impact on an additional 15,000 lives. That is unless the Assembly of Environmentally Impacted Communities (ANAA) has a say in the matter.
Along with the Council of Communal Land Owners and Communities Against Construction of La Parota Dam (CECOP) and, another Grassroots grantee, the Mexican Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAPDER), ANAA has advocated that the state and federal government withdraw its plans to build the dam.
Grassroots International joined nearly 500 other organizations around the world in signing the “Dakar Appeal Against Land Grabbing.” The appeal, originally drafted at the World Social Forum in Dakar in February 2011, calls upon governments to immediately cease all massive land grabs and return the plundered land to communities.
Rivers are sacred in many cultures and central to the World’s early civilizations, from Mesopotamia and Egypt to India and China. Perhaps this was on his mind when Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, famously (if ironically) called mega dams the “temples of modern India.” He would have been more prescient in calling them “temples of doom” given the enormous human, environmental and economic costs of these behemoths. In India alone, since independence, by some estimates nearly 50 million people have been displaced.
According to Grassroots International ally Fahamu, “Agriculture… remains the main source of income of a rural population generally estimated at 70% of the total population… [W]omen remain an essential link in agricultural production, accounting for 70% of food production, managing nearly 100% of processing activities, responsible for about 50% of the maintenance of the family herds and also responsible for some 60% of sales activities in the markets.” Any solutions to the problems of African agriculture, therefore, must include women. In fact, African women are saying, “We Are the Solution.”
It is the tradition at World Social Forums (WSF) to focus a considerable amount of time, energy, resources and attention on issues faced by people in the host region and country. The 2011 World Social Forum in Dakar, Senegal that I had the privilege of attending was no different. Africa and African issues suffused the WSF throughout the forum.
One of these issues was the massive land grabs that are taking place all across the continent. Appropriately called the New Scramble for Africa, it is eerily similar to the mad rush by European colonial powers during the last quarter of the 19th century to divide Africa up among them.
“¡La Tierra No Se Vende – Se Ama y Se Defiende!” (English translation: “The Land is Not for Sale – It must be Loved and Defended!”)
– A change from woman fighting against a large dam in Alpuyeca, Mexico